Testing conditions for West Highland Yachting Week

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Light wind conditions for this year’s 72nd West Highland Yachting made for testing conditions for both sailing and running the regatta by the Joint Regatta Committee (JRC) race team.

However, racing was achieved on all days but one. The Craobh to Oban passage race saw flat calm conditions for the fleet. A wait at Ardluing and at Insh Island for the wind to fill in proved fruitless so the day’s racing was abandoned. And on the days the race format normally splits the spinnaker and non-spinnaker fleets, Principal Race Officer (PRO) of the event Johnny Readman opted to amalgamate the Tunnock’s and Argyll yachts to race as one. With light and variable conditions it was deemed too difficult to set an Olympic style race for the spinnaker fleet.

A return to WHYW for Angus Scott, friends and family from the Clyde was to prove fortuitous. Sailing the family Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 32i Torridon in Class 9, they took a sweep of five firsts and a second in the last race to be awarded not only the class point series but the prestigious Peter Cocks Memorial Trophy for the best overall performance in the fleet.

Lifting the top prize for the week Angus said: ‘This is an emotional return for me to WHYW since the event was our family holiday when I was young. Apart from 2002, my previous West Highland Weeks were with my parents in the ’60s and ’70s which I have very fond memories of.

‘We are returning as a family and the event is just as it was then – as good as ever. We were not sure how competitive Torridon would be, but a taster in the Round Bute race suggested that she would be ok, so West Highland Week was the obvious regatta for us to do. To win the event is just fantastic since, although our class was small, we were racing against some well-sailed boats including two former class winners. My son and his friend as well as the adults have had an amazing time and there is no doubt we will return. It gives the youngsters a real boost to continue sailing into the future.’

The family has owned Torridon since she was launched in 2010. Until last year she had been used for bare boat charter with the Scotts sailing her one or two weeks a year. Angus, who is managing director of Euroyachts, said it was ironic that as a boat salesman he had had little chance to sail in recent years but this had made the return to WHYW and in particular the event win, more special.

Torridon’s crew was Angus Scott, Mary Scott, Angus Scott Jnr and his friend Alex and his dad Alan.

The event, organised by the Joint Regatta Committee (JRC) comprising Oban Sailing Club and Royal Highland Yacht Club, celebrated its 72nd year in 2019.

As ever, flexibility has been at the heart of the WHYW success story as is the format of a ‘moving regatta’ with passage races linking all three ports of call – Craobh, Oban and Tobermory. WHYW gives the opportunity for all the family to take part, racing either in the highly competitive spinnaker classes – The Tunnock’s Fleet – or the non-spinnaker classes – The Argyll Fleet.

With the choice of racing the full points series or just a day or two, the event appeals across the board – to those who just enjoy passage sailing, those who want to try racing for the first time or for the stalwarts that return ‘year in, year out’ to compete.

The main sponsor of the event was Tunnock’s which has been involved for more than a decade and managing director Sir Boyd Tunnock regularly races his Moody Lemerac in the event.

Additional sponsorship came from Argyll and Bute Council, Tobermory Harbour Association, Scottish Sea Farms, Nerabus Gin, Scottish Canals, Webcraft UK Ltd, Owen Sails, Dunstaffnage Marina and West Coast Motors.

In a departure to the traditional prizegiving dance in Oban, the final prizegiving was outside Oban Sailing Club in brilliant sunshine and hailed as a great success. Race Officer Johnny Readman awarded the prizes and thanked Joint Regatta Committee chairman Beppo Buchanan Smith and the JRC team for all their efforts in running the week.

The Angus Meldrum Trophy to the yacht with the best corrected time for the Oban to Tobermory Race was won by Sunrise. Blue Jay was awarded the British Waterways Trophy to the yacht with the best corrected time in the Tobermory to Oban Race.

The John G Maxwell Trophy to the yacht with the best overall score in Class 8 sailed by a member of Royal Highland Yacht Club went to Murray Caldwell on Oystercatcher.

The West Highland Week Family Trophy, awarded to the best family yacht regardless of class or result, was awarded to the Orr family on their Westerly GK 34 Prodigal.

Angus Scott and crew on Torridon won the Peter Cocks Trophy for the best overall performance in the fleet.

Running alongside the regatta racing, the social programme is an integral part of West Highland Yachting Week.

A skipper’s briefing was held in the WHYW marquee at Craobh before the start of the regatta addressed by PRO Johnny Readman, followed by the Nerabus Gin reception. Nerabus is made by The Islay Gin Company and takes its character from its surroundings.

Samples were available alongside the Food from Argyll food and drink event, a Hog Roast and BBQ with music from the Mid Argyll Pipe Band and dancing with the Democrats.

The first midweek prize giving was hosted by Dunstaffange Marina with ceilidh music followed by the ever popular Big Dave’s Beach Party in the marina boat shed where most competitors dressed to suit and the crew of Salamander pulled out all the stops to make it a success.

Food from Dolce Vita of Oban, a late bar and excellent weather made it a highlight of the week.

The JRC re-introduced the Mull prizegiving in the courtyard at Tobermory Distillery and the final prizegiving was held outside Oban Sailing Club at Gallanach.

JRC chairman Beppo Buchanan-Smith summed up this year’s event: ‘When we look back and reflect we will no doubt forget the challenges the wind conditions gave the race team and huge credit must go down to all involved for not only getting the fleet racing but getting seven results over the week – when at one stage even getting one in looked difficult.’

He added: ‘I suspect the results represented well with the best sailed boats leading each class. I know, having competed many times over the years, how often the endeavours and hard work of those on the race team and behind the scenes are taken for granted. Now, having completed my two years as chairman of the committee, I sincerely appreciate all the planning and hard work that is involved in making the week seamless for those competitors. Whilst it is appreciated by most, it is greatly appreciated by the Joint Regatta Committee and I know without all of the support it would not be possible to run WHYW. With this support, we look forward to next year’s event.’

Point series overall
Class 1 – 1 Eos 2 Sunrise 3 Luna of Clyde;
Class 2 – 1 Grand Cru 2 Giggle 3 Ajax;
Class 3 – 1 More Misjif 2 Shadowfax 3 Magdaleyne;
Class 4 – 1 Glenafton 2 Meka 11 3 Tangle o’ the Isles;
Class 5 – 1 Sea Pie of Cultra 2 Salamander XXII 3 Mayrise;
Class 8 – 1 Popcorn 2 Jane Waterman 3 Banshee;
Class 9 – 1 Torridon 2 Halcyon 3 Malindi of Lorne.
Full results on www.whyw.co.uk and www.facebook.com/West HighlandYachtingWeek

Ron and Graeme Cowan, the well-known yachting photographers of Yachting Images, were present each day taking photographs during the event and a selection of individual yachts and fleet shots as well as short videos are available to view via FB, www.yachtingimages.co.ukFor further details, please contact ron@yachtingimages.co.uk

Coinciding with the year of Young People, the Joint Regatta Committee invited budding young journalist contributions during the week to give an overview of the day’s racing.

Copy can be seen on the website and on FB and included contributions from Storm Chalmers (Sunrise), Calum Warnock (Hot Toddy) and Polly Quaile (Sola).